To most the incident was slightly traumatizing. Seeing a teenaged girl crushed beneath a tour bus on a class trip usually is. She just happened to be a little too nervous that her group would miss their scheduled tour time in Independence Hall. Even though the group told her to calm down, her manic anxiety got the best of her and she jolted across the street without looking. Her death was quick, unceremonious, and almost painless. When the bus finally passed her body lay in a disgusting mangle on the street and no one would even dare touch it.
The girl however was in a much different state of mind, when she died, then those around her. In fact she was in a different place entirely. She was floating down a dark tunnel closer and closer to a glorious light. Half way to the light she realized something.
I'm dead! This is the light!
Her sheer will power and fear made her stop. A million thoughts ran through her mind at once. She always had faith in God but never had much faith in herself, at least not enough to guarantee her self into heaven. She also wondered if she could come back to life simply by flying the other way. She came to a decent decision: Fly as close as she could to the light stick her hand through, and then decide if she wanted to go through. She followed out on her plan well until she stuck her hand into the light. She moved it around nervously and grabbed some of it in a fist. The light's reaction and being grabbed so forcefully scared the girl all the way back down the tunnel.
She fell to the ground losing her short-lived ability to fly. The whole world around her seemed to shake with shock and the piece of light she had stolen. Suddenly a wave of fatigue washed over her. Her dimming eyes scanned the area until she saw the brighter then usual image of Independence Hall. She staggered closer and closer to it until she lost her footing on the sidewalk. She was too tired to even contemplate going on and she fell into the ground. Just as she was about to lose sight of the light a pair of arms reached though the cement to help her up. They were strong and steady and covered in something warm. She muffled a 'Thank you' into the person's soft shirt as she fell asleep.
Yellow watched the greensoul with intensity. It was the first time he had kept time in over fifty years. It had been nine months exactly since he had saved the girl from sinking into the sidewalk in front of his home. He had nine months to search the girl's pockets and steal something of hers but he couldn't bring himself to even touch her. The fact that greensouls didn't have an after glow had always worried him. He was the xenophobic type, who never made friends in Everlost, he never found anyone he could trust. In recuing this girl he prayed that he would find a friend or at least an ally.
Suddenly her skin started to glow ever so slightly. Her eyes snapped open and she shot up in place looking around with great curiosity. Asher eyes met his she blushed.
"Um, hi," she said. "Did I pass out?" She asked Shyly.
She put her chin to her chest making her dark eyes seem larger then life, she seemed almost as if she was trying to hide in her own sandy hair.
"No," Yellow said, "You died, you were hit by a," He paused to think of the name of the vehicle, "bus! You were hit by a bus!" He said smiling to himself over his knowledge of modern technology. Just because he was dressed for the seventeen hundreds didn't mean he had stay there.
She cocked her head and stared at him.
"So the light wasn't a dream?"
"Nope!" He said happy with her composure. Even he knew how hard it is finding out that you're dead.
"How long have I been," She hesitated saying the word, "dead?"
"Nine months! I counted to the second! It's the first time I've kept the time in years!"
"No," she said, "I can't be dead, Independence Hall is not where you go when you die, you're just playing a trick on me, I'm not gullible any more." She said shaking her head.
"But it's true!" Yellow said spreading his arms wide. "And it's not as bad as you may think!"
"I'm not dead!" She said putting her arms up in a defensive position, "And what are you a reenactment person?" She said gesturing to his cloths.
"No I'm not, I died in this I can't change it! Just like you!"
She looked down at her wardrobe. She was wearing simply warn jeans and a purple-based flannel shirt that was unbuttoned displaying a pretty dark blue tank top.
"Could be worse," She shrugged. "Could look like you!" She snickered.
He grew frustrated.
"You want me to prove that we're dead! I'll do it! Follow me!"
She hopped off the table she had been sitting on and followed him out into the hallway.
A group of people went down the staircase following a park ranger. Yellow raised up his fist ready for the park ranger to come down. The girl just sat there watching in shock as the park ranger passed through Yellow's fist.
"So, we are dead." She said her voice fell flat. "I suppose, I suppose this couldn't be all bad." She said contemplating the situation. "At least I don't have to go to school right?" she said, smiling. She shuddered at even thinking of all the stress school had created for her. "And are there are no rules here?"
"None at all!" Yellow said nodding his head.
"This is actually, a great thing!" Said the girl. "No more stress no more people depending on you!" Her face brightened up even more, "Call me Ollie!"
"That's an odd name," he said.
"I hate my real name I want it gone!"
"Are you sure?" He asked, "most afterlights would do anything to remember their names, I forgot mine who knows how long ago!"
"What's an afterlight?" asked Ollie.
"That's what we are! Because we glow, like lights!"
She examined her arm more closely.
"Oh yeah, I see it!"
"Yes, it's quite interesting! But we're getting off track, welcome to Everlost! The land between the physical world and the light! The wonderful place where no grownups can boss us around or make us go to school or tell us to behave!"
"Amen to that!" She yelped putting her hand up to high five.
It took Yellow some to realize what she was doing until he recognized the gesture and returned the high five.
"So it's just us here? Or are there others?" She asked.
"There are other children here, they are not easy to trust though."
She nodded her head, "I understand, its like high school with out the learning!"
"Exactly!" he smiled.
She thought for a minute about things she could say to continue the conversation.
"What's your name?" she asked.
"Yellow." He replied, shyly.
"Is it because of your eyes?" She asked equally shy.
"Yes, I died during the epidemic."
"You died of the fever?" She asked, full of intrigue.
"Yes, I died of yellow fever in seventeen ninety-three."
"That is so cool!" she said inching closer to his face.
He had always hated the sickly yellow that covered what was once the white part of his eyes. They reminded him of being alone and unable to help himself.
"That is way cooler then being hit by a bus, by far!"
"It wasn't very cool at the time." He said as he leaned up against the wall digging his face into his collar.
"Oh! Sorry! Sorry! Hey," she said observing his action.
"How come I remember sinking into the ground out side but not in here, and how are you leaning up against that wall?"
He jumped up off the wall and looked back at it.
"Oh, we're in a vortex, it's a place that exists in both worlds. Also, another place that's solid is a dead spot, something that people cared about a lot that got destroyed."
"That's cool," Said Ollie.
"Yeah, vortexes also change afterlights, I'm not sure how this one affects us though."
"When did you come here?" She asked.
He thought for a while and sat down on the stairs. Another group of people came down the steps and Ollie giggled as they walked through her.
"I don't know" He said into his scarred hands, "I'm not here all the time though, I have some friends who will only meet me outside of here."
"What are their names?" Said Ollie, full of interest.
"Freak, and Rumor."
"They sound awesome! Can I meet them?"
"Yes, eventually but first stop breathing, it's annoying me and you'll make Freak cry."
"Okay," she said warily.
Her chest froze she seemed nervous at first but when she realized she could live without it she was happy.
"Okay!" she said careful not to breath, "Let's go meet your friends!"
Ollie was frowning on the walk to the Mutter museum. Everything was fuzzy and the sun just didn't feel the same. The sounds were muffled but audible. Every once in a while she would see a dead spot she saw more and more as they entered the more historic part of the city.
"I hate seeing the city like this." She said flatly. "It's so colorless,"
"You get used to it, " shrugged Yellow.
The walk became awkward so Ollie tried to start a conversation.
"So, why 'Yellow' and not 'Fever'. Fever is so much cooler, not that Yellow isn't cool." Said Ollie cautiously.
"Not enough people are as educated as you on the subject."
She tried again.
"So, have you ever met any of the founding fathers?"
"Personally no, but I've seen a one."
"Really! Which one?"
"Benjamin Franklin, I saw him once when I was nine."
"You're so cool, Yellow!" She said trying to take him by the hand.
He shook her off.
"Why is that?" he asked eyeing her suspiciously.
"Because you're like, living history!"
He glared at her.
"Well maybe not living but, you're here right?" she shrugged, "You could give me a first hand account of what it was like during the epidemic!"
"I rather not!" he snapped.
"Sorry I forgot you were touchy on the subject." She said sheepishly.
There was an awkward silence.
"I hate sinking into the ground." She complained trying to change the subject.
"You get used to it." He said flatly.
As much as she hated the sinking and the colorlessness and building hunger there were a few things that she was happy with; The first thing she was satisfied with was the first thing she had noticed waking in Everlost, Yellow, she had already formed a firm crush on him. He was blunt and honest and she loved that she didn't always have to guess what he was thinking; on top of that he was pretty normal looking not to pretty not to scary just her type. Another thing she loved was the fact that she didn't change, if there was one thing that she feared it was change (in fact she feared many things which raged from acrophobia to zelophobia, most of which were self diagnosed) she loved the fact that she never had to change or grow old. (Which connected to her self diagnosed greontophobia). Another thing she liked was that she would never have to be called 'Penelope' ever again. The one thing, though, that enchanted the most was the ability to move through solid objects, who wouldn't want to do that?
"We're here." Said Yellow coolly.
"Finally! Another vortex! This is a vortex right? They didn't take down the Mutter Museum did they?"
"Nope, this is the vortex of pride and beauty, believe it or not."
"What does it do?" Ollie asked with extreme interest.
"It makes afterlights increase their greatest, or at least what they think is their greatest, feature tenfold. The only problem is, it eliminates some less savory features of an afterlights looks or personality, depending on the person, it can make them pretty boring."
"Have you been in there before?" she asked nervously.
"Yep, I went in there a few years after it opened, I noticed it made me less lonely for some reason. I just didn't want to talk to people that much anymore, but even I got bored without anyone to talk to." He shrugged.
"Is that why you saved me?" she asked nervously.
He thought about it for a second.
"Yes, that is definitely why I saved you."
Score! She thought.
The walked into the old creepy museum pushing right through the visitors. The rough hard wood floors creaked even when a weightless afterlight walked upon them.
"Freak lives down here," he said as her began to quickly drift down the stairs into the depths of the exhibit.
The museum of medical oddities seemed like the perfect place to house a ghost, especially one named Freak. The skulls and petrified body parts were creepy but the scariest part, to both Yellow and Ollie, were the plaster molds and photographs of the horribly deformed people. Yes this was definitely a prime haunting place for a ghost named for its freakiness.
"Freak! Freak?" yelled Yellow, "Freak I know you're in here come out!"
A muffled noise came front behind a displace case. Not the faded noises of the physical world but and Everlost noise.
A young boy about the age of twelve with shaggy brown hair popped up from behind the display case. He was imitating the act of breathing heavily when he lost his footing and fell back wards and onto the floor.
"Christ, Rumor stop breathing you'll make Freak all mad." Said Yellow.
A young girl the same age as Rumor also stood up from the behind the display case. She had beautiful brunet locks that fell to her midsection she was dressed in a hospital gown that looked more like a long tee shirt.
"I'm really trying to deal with it, Rumor always forgets and when you see him so often, I just really want to be able to live my after life with it." She said sweetly.
She noticed Ollie and ducked back again behind the display case.
"This is my friend, relax Freak." Said Yellow.
She stood up and shyly shook hands with Ollie.
"My name's Ollie, and you must be Freak." She said.
"Yes and that goof over there is Rumor."
"How'd you get your names?" asked Ollie nervously.
"Well, " said Rumor, standing up, "I'm very good at finding out what's going on all over Everlost! They call me Rumor because all few Philadelphian afterlights know that I am the most accurate source of information!"
"How many afterlights are there in Philly?" Asked Ollie to the whole group.
"Well there's us," Rumor paused to think, "and two vapors, you know, groups of afterlights, who are constantly at a pointless war. Although, lately most of them are headed to New York for who knows why."
"I thought you said you knew everything." Said Ollie slyly.
"Well I know the Sky-Witch used to live in New York, but she was defeated some time ago by the Chocolate Ogre, The McGill, Allie the Outcast, and a few other legends. Any way I never wondered why because New York sucks and Philly rules, it's as simple as that."
"Hell yeah!" Said Ollie as she high fived Rumor.
Freak glared at them before she interjected.
"Look at why they call me freak!" she said as she showed Ollie her tentacle-arm.
"Gah!" Yelped Ollie. "Is that how you died?" she said in shock and disgust trying in vain not to stare at it.
"No! No!" said Yellow "We all just look how we remember ourselves, some people can just remember them selves different and belike shape shifters, that's what she is!"
"Oh, okay!" Said Ollie with relief watching her tentacle turn back into an arm. "This place just keeps getting cooler and cooler!"
"You ruined it!" pouted Freak.
"Yeah, there are other cool powers too!" said Rumor enthusiastically, " ecto-ripping, skin-jacking, and some lesser known powers like unremembering, and the hypnotism powers of the Sky Witch!"
"How can you learn these powers?" asked Ollie.
"You can't learn how to skin-jack or ecto-rip it's something you die with, but shape-shifting is something that takes lots and lots of practice." Said Freak smugly.
"Well I guess I won't learn to shape-shift since it seems to be your 'thing'" Said Ollie.
"What do you mean by that?" said Freak accusingly.
"It's the thing that makes you fell, you know," Ollie thought for a minuet, "Special, the thing that you think makes you different." Said Ollie trying not to be persecuting.
"Oh," said Freak, not quite sure how to respond.
There was an awkward silence that was interrupted by Rumor, as it happened he hated silence.
"So you're a greensoul!" He said gently nudging Ollie.
"Yep! I'm a total noob at this afterlight thing!"
They all looked at her curiously making her blush.
"What?" she said sheepishly.
"What's a 'noob'?" asked Rumor.
"Oh! It's short for newbie! When did you guys die? You both look pretty modern."
Rumor had to think about this for a little bit so Freak happily took his place.
"I died of polio in the fifties!" she said almost excitedly.
Ollie was almost shocked. She was a bit of a history buff and looked into polio, and the pictures she saw were not pleasant. This girl however, was perfect and beautiful.
"I looked much different back then, then I do now." She shrugged.
"I was killed by some drugged up driver, sometime in the mid seventies I think. I don't remember that well." Rumor shrugged, "Besides, I live here now right?"
Ollie nodded in response.
"I was hit by a bus nine months ago, not that interesting!"
Ollie noticed that Yellow was getting bored. She herself was getting annoyed with the way Freak carried herself, she always did have a problem with confident people.
"Yellow, I'm tired, can you take me home?" She feigned.
"Nice try, afterlights don't get tired, we don't need sleep." He scoffed.
She rolled her eyes.
"Fine. I'm bored can we leave?" she asked with a hint of cynicism.
"Gladly." He said with a sly grin.
"Well I'll see you later guys!" waved Ollie as she ascended the stairway back into the lobby.
Ollie followed Yellow out the door and into the night. She relaxed and put her hands into her pockets and smiled. Feeling around in her pockets she found her phone and her ipod. She smiled and turned to Yellow and asked.
"Hey if I have like an electrical device in Everlost does it ever run out of battery?" she asked.
He thought about this for some time and then responded, "No, I don't think so."
Ollie nodded her head satisfied. Then she remembered her breast pocket in her flannel. She reached into it feeling around for her packet of gum. It was there just haw she'd left it; key lime pie flavor, slightly melted. As she went to grasp it her fingers brushed a cool smooth surface. She reached for the surface and pulled out a coin.
"Must have forgotten that I had this." She guessed.
As soon as Yellow saw the coin he grappled at it.
"Hey get off!" Ollie giggled. Grasping the coin as hard as she could.
"Is the coin warm?" asked Yellow intently.
"What kind of question is that?" She laughed as he continued to attack her for the coin.
"Just tell me!" he groaned.
"No it's cold! Jeez!" she said pushing him off her.
"Okay," he sighed, "Just keep it away from me." He said in disgust.
"Eye, eye, captain." She said rolling her eyes. "Everlost is weird."